Friday, September 26, 2014

When two authors meet

A piece I was asked to write for Storizen magazine about running into fellow authors. Link at


There’s a certain charm associated with meeting frien-gers – strangers who give the illusion of being friends. Strangers because you’ve never met them personally. Friends because you’ve read about them and read them. And you realize you’ve been so privy to this person’s innermost thoughts, known them so intimately that meeting in person is just akin to starting in the middle of a conversation. No introductions, no ice-breakers. Just an immediate connection that transcends the norms of a social meeting. I’m talking about running into fellow authors.
            Madhuri and I had met up on one midweek summer evening in San Francisco about a year back and painted the town red. Which is writer speak for ‘found a corner table at a quiet restaurant and talked our hearts out long after most patrons had probably turned in for the night’. We were eventually asked to leave, politely of course, by a blonde stud boy who we were apparently holding up from some sort of a life-threatening emergency. Our last ditch attempt to wrap up at a coffee shop was also futile. We promised to meet again and parted ways.
            If one must count on an external event to bring along some surprises, let it be the rains. This monsoon we met again in Mumbai, a city very close to my heart. It was an unplanned get-together. I was in for a treat watching Madhuri charm her way with the patrons at this lively restaurant in Versova. She has a zany energy about her, the kind that is very contagious. The entire restaurant crew was buzzing around her at some point.  As writers we give so much of ourselves to what we write that I occasionally fear there’s nothing more left to us. You’ve written every word you know. You’ve put every thought that has ever crossed your mind out there. Has someone figured me out entirely by reading me? I’d never know. With Madhuri, there’s not even a hint of that worry. She’s a revelation every minute, seamlessly jumping from one anecdote to another, oscillating articulately between ideas. I’ve caught up with many writers over the years. Some, I meet regularly in various writers’ groups. The kinds I’ve known mostly are intense, speak at their discretion, every word measured, and you walk away knowing less about them than you did when you met them. Then there are others who are perky, uninhibited, and sparkling conversationalists. Needless to say, I was in good company for the evening.
 With new books in both our kitties there was a lot to catch up on. But it wasn’t just that. It was the countless other things about the vocation that must be discussed, no holds barred; like the opportunities and the challenges, the high notes and the pitfalls, the thrills and the trepidations, the semblance of inspiration and the lack thereof. There’s a mystique element to writing if you are outside looking in but like with any other profession, only those in the same boat would nod vehemently as you verbalize the tiniest pain-point and offer you a tissue box when you weep like no one’s looking. It’s a cathartic relief, a joyous one.
There are myriad other things about the world we inhabit that connect two like-minded people to each other – families, friends, enemies, frenemies and favorites. Favorite writers, favorite books, favorite author interviews, favorite quotes, favorite cafes  to write in ; the list is literally unending when there are two girls in the mix.  Then there’s the other favorite – favorite worst writers, the ones that make us cringe. Dissing is fun, did I mention? It helps you digest alcohol.
          Ultimately what makes a rendezvous memorable is how much you’ve “clicked”, the connection you’ve established, the stories you’ve shared and received and the encouragement, the stimulus, the inspiration you’ve walked away with. I’ll raise a glass to that… until the next time.

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